Speaking from Athens, President Isaac Herzog in the course of a state visit to Greece, added his voice to those of Israeli officials who have called on Israelis stationed in Ukraine to return to Israel immediately.
In the course of his conversation with President Katerina Sakellaropoulou of the Hellenic Republic, Herzog, in relation to developments in Ukraine, said, “Madam President, this is undoubtedly a historic moment, and a very complicated one. Like you, I too feel great sorrow and concern about a humanitarian tragedy and, God forbid, injury to innocent civilians. Like many around the world, I pray for peace to return between Russia and Ukraine. Israel, as our government has communicated, supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
Herzog also echoed pledges by members of the Israeli government in offering all kinds of humane assistance to the government of Ukraine.
While his visit to Greece was planned as an expression of friendship, it was much more than that. It was a declaration of regional cooperation in confronting challenges that face most of the countries in the region.
From the first moment that he entered office, said Herzog, his goal has been to see that all nations in this part of the Mediterranean must work together, certainly in the face of common challenges, such as the climate crisis.
On the day prior to his visit, Herzog participated in a conference on climate change in Jerusalem, where he said that the climate change crisis keeps him awake at night.
At his meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Herzog again voiced concern for the Jewish citizens of Ukraine and once more stated that Israel fully supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
He refrained from any criticism of Russia, knowing that a slip of the tongue could have repercussions in Syria. He did, however, call on both sides to find a means of resolving the conflict as quickly as possible.
Mitsotakis told Herzog that Greece and all of Europe condemn Russia’s assault on Ukraine, which Greece regards as a “blatant and unprovoked violation of international law.”
She expressed her belief that other countries would join the European Union member states and NATO in sending “a clear and indisputable message” to Russia.
Turning to relations with Israel, Mitsotakis said that Greece’s recognition of Israel in 1990 was the correction of a historical injustice, adding that he was happy to see the partnership and strategic alliance that now exists between the two countries, which are sharing information on a variety of issues including climate change and regional security. During their meeting, Herzog and Mitsotakis also discussed trilateral cooperation, and bilateral political, defense and economic cooperation.
Herzog’s efforts toward unity and peace in the Middle East have been recognized by the municipality of Athens, as evidenced by the gold medal presented to him by Athens Mayor Kostas Bakyannis, following a consensus by the Athens Municipal Council.
Before leaving Athens on Thursday night to return to Israel, Herzog met separately with Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament Konstantinos Tasoulas, Opposition Leader Alexis Tsipras and representatives of the Greek Jewish community. Next week he will travel to Cyprus, and after that to Turkey.
Herzog received a second gold medal from Tasoulas – this one marking 200 years of Greek independence, along with a book about the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which had been written by his father, Chaim Herzog, and translated into Greek. Herzog was told that the book is distributed to military commanders.